Sunday, December 19, 2010

Narcissism and the nursing mom, part II

Is the consolation prize for dieting without results a hearty mental pat on the back--"nice try, Self"? Are there little diet angels watching over me, lobbying to their king to cut me a break--pleading, "just two pounds, your Godliness, then we will go back to watching over the sick and needy"? What happened to "no pain, no gain"? When did it become "a definite excess of pain, with a slight chance of minimal gain"?
No wonder people fall off the diet wagon. I have found myself uttering un-pleasantries out of hunger--such as "I'm so hungry I could eat Joshy's poopy diaper" and "Just because that taco's innards spilled on the floor, there's no reason to waste it." These are the words of a desperate individual. I am starting to wonder if people have been institutionalized because of mental illness induced by Jenny Craig. If so, that woman should probably have been sued a million times over.
On a daily basis, one encounters many potentially annoying situations--a stubbed toe, a toilet clog, an aggressive driver cut-off. On the irritation-o-meter, consider where you would rate these things on a day when you enjoyed a frappucino and a bagel for breakfast versus a day that began with a grapefruit and a carefully-measured half-cup of steel-cut oats blended with a tablespoon of brown rice-protein powder (a concoction I've dubbed "proatmeal").
The real question though comes down to something quite simple--does dieting turn me into a bitch? Of course one can be miserable and kind at the same time, but I don't think I'm evolved enough on the morality scale to pull it off. Perhaps if I continue dieting, I will lose friends, ostracize my husband, make my child resent me eternally. Anyone with a degree in Psychology or a similar field such as Entemology, would say "For goodness sake, you are ruining your life--quit dieting now, while you still have some semblance of happiness! Do you want to sit here in six years, alone, broke and (perhaps) skinny, saying 'Why didn't I give up dieting before I lost everything that mattered to me?'"
They say that more murders happen in the summer months, that people are so physically uncomfortable they would kill. I am willing to hypothesize that dieting leads people to commit crimes as well--and like the problem of interracial crime--we may be looking at a society plagued by "skinny on fat" crime and vice-versa. Many would argue that America is suffering from an obesity problem, when in actuality the demise of our once-glorious country wears the beautiful bikini bod of a Nutrisystem spokesmodel.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Narcissism and the nursing mom

I used to do what my husband and I fondly refer to as "the popcorn diet"--basically eating a whole bag of popcorn two or three times a day (in addition to meals.) Somehow, unlike most of my lofty plans, it actually worked. That was about two years ago, and I got down to near my weight in college, though I was still hoping to get down to what I weighed in high school (when I was skinny and hot, but still of course thought I was too fat.) The popcorn diet led to many a-toilet-clog, which my kind hubby would plunge out for me on a nearly daily basis.
That was two years ago and i promptly got pregnant before I got much chance to keep losing. My Joshy is nearly nine months old and I'm still a good ten pounds up from that recent low. If you have never nursed a baby before though, you need to know that a kid can suck a couple hundred calories out of you in minutes. On the surface that seems like a great fad diet itself, but in my actuality after a nursing session, I just turn into a starving post-hibernation bear ready to eat anything in my path.
So four days ago, I launched Operation Soup Diet. The idea is eat only three meals (instead of my normal six,) and just have plain vegetable broth soup when I'm still hungry. Well, that lasted two days--I'm still doing three meals, but the soup kept me up all night peeing.
I'm actually surprised that I'm sticking with any diet at all, since on the third day I got up the nerve to check the scale for the first time in the week and found I was up three pounds. I moved the scale to what I hoped would be a more level, and thus accurate position, only to find that it added an extra half pound!
Dejected, I moaned to my sweet hubby how frustrated I was. He assured me that I just needed to give it more time, which depressed me further, as I looked out onto a new calendar year filled with bagel-less mornings and cookie-less nights sandwiching sanwich-less days going on for an eternity or until I decided to just give up on skinniness altogether.
The scale incident actually called to mind my first diet failure--I was about nine or ten and just realizing I was chubby compared to other kids. As a quick-fix measure, I grabbed a bottle of chocolate-flavored calcium pills shaped like circus animals, which for some reason we called "milky bones," also the name of some doggy treats that probably tasted just as good. Blissfully ignorant of both the registered trade mark insignia and the fact that more calcium does not equal less fat, I took a milky bone and stepped on the scale. When it showed no result, I popped another, giving up anticlimactically at seven.
My life has been full of half- and whole-hearted attempts at weight loss since then, so there's no reason the current one should be much different. Except that now I'm a mommy, albeit a very hungry mommy--and a mommy who, like the Very Hungry Caterpillar, needs a whole lot of olfactory encouragement and old-fashioned moralizing before I can get my act together.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Making something out of stuff

On Chanakah, my stepson Shay was less interested in his new fluff-lined sweatshirt than in his empty cardboard box. He folded it in half horizontally and began to look for "a face", then quickly snapped up his brothers' abandoned boxes, declaring his intention of creating a special gift for his guinea pig.
I've always had an affinity for things with "a face"--be they smiley cookies or stuffed plush veggies--in my mind I wanted a little smile or winky eye on every object in my universe. I may have been stuck in a materialistic society, but at least all my things could smile darn it.
I am enamored by people who build stuff, make stuff, see something in junk and make it into something useful--an old lone sock reborn as a cute stuffed toy, a ragged sweater resurrected as leg warmers.
My time as a stay-at-home mama finds me with my baby and my stuff all day. I am constantly searching for ways to be useful, probably to alleviate in equal parts boredom and guilt over not bringing home any bacon (tofu bacon in our vegetarian case).
My husband can fix, make or build just about anything. He dismantled and rebuilt a projector once that they were throwing away at work, then proceeded to cut a whole in the living room wall and screwed hooks into the tiled ceiling. I was none to pleased to see him happily hacking away at my living room one day to my surprise. By the end of the day though he had set up a movie theater in our living room.
Over the years I've come to realize that sometimes the shittiest feelings and experiences lead to the best art and the most meaningful growth. After all, the best compost is made of the smelliest poops around.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I wanna feed myself!

Moving from spoon-feeding to self-feeding

So if my baby grabs the spoon and drops all the food off it in a big green or orange plop on his leg, does that mean he's not ready for food? What I'm seeing his actually his desire to self-feed--something quite hard to do with all the beautiful organic purees I've made him. So after six weeks of spoon-feeding, I actually have a high chair and I'm ready to let him hang out in it, not in my lap--or better yet, on my boob--during dinner. So far, we have given him rice cakes (handheld mum mums for babies), puffed wheat cereal, banana chunks and baked sweet potato spears successfully. I also have seen him break off tiny pieces of an apple and gag on them though. While I realize he's developing his gag reflex, I still want to avoid hard foods like apple now that my guy has teeth. The reason it took me a while to warm up to what they call "baby-led weaning" was my fear of choking. So for now we are sticking to soft foods. I'm looking to do a variety while his palate is open, before he begins to develop his comforting toddler favorites, like pb and j and Mac n cheese. After doing some research, these are the foods that seem to work best for babies that I hope to try in the next few months:
Steamed apple and pear spears
Steamed cauliflower
Ripe mango slices

Raw tofu chunks
Avocado slices
Cooked peach and plum slices
Baked butternut squash

Steamed carrots

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On Goats and Babies

Monday was our outing with the mamas and babies at the farm. We were to pick pumpkins, do a hayride, have lunch together and visit the barnyard animals. Being an animal lover, I was most excited about introducing Joshy to the beauty of farm creatures--he already loves kitties (as long as by love you know I mean loves grabbing them and trying to pull them into his mouth.)
After we each took photographic keepsakes of our little ones sitting in the pumpkin patch with the pumpkin they "picked" we ate lunch. The mommies got pumpkin bread I made (whole wheat, fat-free and vegan of course) and the babies got mushy fruits or boobies.
So most of these babies are crawling or toddling by now. My joshy mainly sits around at these events trying to pull at their pant legs as they whiz by him. So after about ten minutes in the playground joshy was quite restless, as was I. Why weren't we doing that aforementioned barnyard activity? No one seemed to know or care, so despite inviting all the mommy-baby pairs to come with, we treked over to the little goat enclosure alone.
Now one thing I neglected to mention about this farm is that despite the fun that could and was being had there, it was quite commercial. In fact they had so many kids there that day, that they had us all lined up like cattle and had a big old Sharpie-produced sign at each group's corral where they were to leave their belongings (in our case strollers filled with blankets diaper bags and Boppy pillows.)
Thus I was hardly surprised that the barnyard was enclosed by double fencing and we could at best end up three feet from the friendliest of goat making its way to the plastic shoot where for a quarter in a nearby candy machine we could slide out some food pellets for it. It seemed a typical New Jersey "family farm". What did surprise me was the swirling red globe dangling from a goat's backside.
This goat wasn't just having a baby--it was walking in circles as other goats followed, as if they were all involved in some ancient goat birthing ritual. (I remembered reading in What to Expect When You are Expecting that walking can speed up labor,but nothing about getting trailed by your extended family during the actual birth.) Within a few minutes of goat bleeting, a little pile of black baby goat tumbled in a pile. I held my breath for a few seconds--it looked like a stillbirth. But then it shuddered and drew its first breath. Immediately the goat crew went to town de-sliming it. Mom was off--down at the other end of the enclosure. She had another swirling red balloon about to pop.
As if the balloons, goat circling and group amniotic juice party weren't odd enough, after the second goatlet spilled out, a bunch of goats starting sniffing this poor mother "down there", and "down there" was pretty red and drippy I might add. A big one mounted the mom, who had been trying to lick her second kid off, and needless to say, baby two had to settle for the same group cleaning her brother got.
After this awkward post-birth fornication though, baby two got a lot of mommy attention,while baby one was struggling to stand up, still looking quite slimy. A farm worker picked him up to confirm the gender and then just left him alone among the other goats who had by now moved on to do other important goat business. I felt so horrible for this lonely little goat as he stumbled along as we people stared. His mom just kept licking her second baby though, even after the black goat got closer to her. He got a couple licks eventually, but she hovered around goat two even while doling them out.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gardening tips

So I have a black thumb. I'm going to start small-- one houseplant that is hard to kill. I'm looking for a very harty herb. This gave me some ideas:

Too cute to attack?

The Grabbies

Should babies come with protective goggles? Maybe weekly email reminders to trim their nails? Perhaps my cute little cherub's monstrous growls indicate his newfound oneness with his inner beast.
A friend of mine who doesn't have children once told me that kids are basically primitive savages. I never denied this, but being the aesthetically-minded individual I am, I may have been too blinded by the adorable button nose to notice that it was smelling some fresh meat to attack.
In the first two weeks of joshy's sixth month I have suffered daily hair-pulling, deep-claw face- and neck-grabbing, and cheek hicky-ing. After celebrating his half-birthday with the family enjoying a home-made low-fat cake with his name on it, Joshy's latest impulse took the cake so to speak.
After nursing the very excited and cranky half-birthday boy into what I was hoping would be a drowsy milk-induced state, he insisted instead that I stand him up for his double-burping, post-nursing playtime. He clutched around at the air hoping, I think,to catch a nice-sized chunk of hair.
But in a split-second my eye exploded in pain, and only then did I realize that I'd been attacked by my own baby.
After I gave joshy to my husband so I could attempt to nurse my wounds, the lingering family members, namely the immediate ones from Long island, assured me I was okay and that my eye looked normal. The pain dissipated a bit after an hour and I fell asleep as I usually do--clutching onto my beautiful son.
When the light of morning reflected onto that newly-opened eye though the pain returned with newfound vigor. My father insisted I go to the emergency room,which I poo-pooed (sp?) figuring I'd be stuck there all day with joshy whining. (The boy refuses the bottle so I had no other option but rushing to the hospital, the cutest culprit in tow.)
Despite my insistence that we check on the insurance first, my family packed us off to Wills Eye, an eye hospital in nearby Philadelphia. We made fast friends with the other victims of various eye injuries waiting to be seen-- that happens when you have a kid who can smile and stick out his tongue simultaneously and smiles at everyone who notices him.
The doctor gave me two bottles of goo to pour in my eye multiple times a day and sent me on my way with my little monster. As the day went on my parents packed up for ny and left me and my savage to our own devices. Within that very day I learned to duck quickly as he tried to grab that same eye again and even made an attempt on the other one. I now understand that the "grabbies" are here to stay for a while and the best thing I can do is move out of the way of my baby's id.

Friday, October 15, 2010

So in sync


This fragile life in my hands wells me up with gratitude. This fullness of spirit seems to happen most when I see my son sleeping. Tonight he fell asleep in my father's arms after our Shabbos dinner. The two of them-- my dad, with his rough beard, greying temples, smiling down at joshy, his fuzzy head, strawberry mouth-- I could just burst with love.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I'm realizing that chillier days and runny noses are making me less apt to leave the house with the baby. I'm feeling stir-crazy just thinking about it!
Some semi-productive easy stuff to do with baby in the house:
Sing songs and dance with home-made instruments
snuggle in bed and learn stuff on science channel
Bake pumpkin bread and give baby some pumpkin purée

My sun/son!

My sleepy sick boy

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Attached mommy

I have to say the idea of "attached parenting" bugged me out before I became a mom myself. Seemed like enmeshment-- what boundaries would I have separating me as an individual?
I sort of fell into it though-- first with breastfeeding, followed closely by co-sleeping, baby-wearing, organic living, etc. I never decided to be a new-agey kind of mom, but now I'm in the Holistic Moms Network...


dancing in the dark

I'm on a journey toward balance and serenity in mommyhood. I want to be the kind of mom that makes organic babyfood and sews Halloween costumes. I want to enjoy every moment, but sometimes I want to escape every moment.
Joshy is beside me in bed now, semi-snoring because of his cold. I'm typing away trying to find answers. I used to be a poet, an artist, a teacher...How can I find time to shower now, let alone make meaning?

The mommy dance

This dance seems to always involve a partner-- my baby. Joshy is now the center of my universe. Then how do I juggle the rest?